Thursday, October 25, 2007

One Spring Morning Off Spring Street #30

"His bandmates in Birdland appreciated the power of Lester's words. '"There's a Man in There" is a fantastic song--the hackles on my neck still rise when I think about it' Quick said. Leigh spent hours with Lester trying to marry his lyrics to melodies. 'He would give me things that were more stories than lyrics,' he said. 'Every body knew that Lester was a great writer, that he could do great things with words. There were some people that appreciated the performances, too, but things could get very raw onstage.'" [Let It Blurt, Jim DeRogatis, p 185.]

So it was a Sunday morning, yes it was, that's what I'm reading in DeRogatis's book; it was a Sunday morning that Lester Bangs and Mitch Leigh, and David Merrill, and Matty Quick woke my ass up around 11 that morning, dammit, rattling off "I Fought the Law and the Law Won." Holy shit and holy cattle and holy hats of heathen peak, that was it, a Sunday morning, sure--it makes sense; I was in the Ear Inn all day Saturday and Saturday night, with somebody, one of the gals or Jesus Christ or my friend the bartender and the L.A. Billboard girl--I was probably with a Bennington girl--they found the Ear Inn about this time as their semester was coming to an end in basketweaving classes or potters's classes ("My kiln was out in the woods off campus and I used to fire my stuff naked and put one of my public hairs in every piece I did, sort of my personal signature")(I saw Debbie Does Dallas with a Bennington girl whose father was an ambassador--damn right; I was in high cotton flitting around downtown Gotham with that half-Nicaraguan-half-Texan leftover hippy girl) and they were down in the Apple looking for spaces to hang during that coming summer. So who the hell knows--I can't remember what I did but I do remember waking up to...well, I'm no rock critic....

"Artists whom Lester had praised or panned now found themselves in the odd position of judging his music. 'The last time I saw Lester, he got me to go down to Max's Kansas City to see his band,' Ian Hunter recalled. 'It struck me that this guy had amazing taste as a critic, but when he was in a band, it was the worst band I've ever seen in my life. I didn't know what to say to him because it was so bloody awful.'" [Let It Blurt, Jim DeRogatis, p 185.]
Lester with Birdland; from left to right: Matty Quick; Lester; Mitch Leigh; and David Merrill. They are in front of a small garbage hauler's roll-down garage door--this garbage hauler's building was on Renwick St. directly behind Phil Baretti's garbage-hauling building that was right across Greenwich St. from my apartment and Matty's apartment. Now that I think about it, David Merrill might have taken an apartment in the Renwick building Jesus Christ and Twinkies and Little Richie Rich lived in. A long time ago it was, dear reader(s).

On April Fool's Day in 1979, Lester Bangs and Birdland made a multitrack tape at Jimi's paradisiacal recording studio, Electric Lady. For years the master tape of this session was lost, though it turned up in 1983 and ended up with Mitch Leigh. In 1998, Mitch Leigh had the master tape re-mastered out in Hollywood and issued it himself on the Dionysus label. On the back of the CD Mitch wrote: "Lester had a Father Flanagan approach to music; 'There's no such thing as a bad note'. I thought if there's no bad notes then there's no good notes; it's just how you mix 'em up or don't mix 'em up that makes music. We could have gone on forever arguing that one. Maybe some day we will.

"The usual method for the making of this record is fairly obvious. You'll probably either assumed that (A) no record company we approached was interested or (B) that I had no money to make them myself. Either way you'd be right. Encouragement from friends led to the belief (which Lester and I always had) that to get the tape out of the can was a necessity--the mother of invention. I resorted to selling advertising space on the back of the cover to get up the money to press the records--a true community effort."

I am putting my copy of this CD in my iTunes as I type this--for the first time in 28 years I'm gonna listen to...first, the tunes on the CD are 1. Textbook Case; 2. Kill Him Again; 3. I'm in Love With My Walls; 4. Fade Away; 5. Accidents of God...and then there it is, No. 6 track on the album: "I Fought the Law" and that's the track I'm gonna listen to right now...

Wow. I'm excited. I'm continuously excited however because I'm a writer like Lester and obvious not like Mitch Leigh, still a rocker I see in his lonesome fifties (as an aside, Mitch Leigh's and Joey Ramone's stepfather was Lester's psychiatrist).

See ya!

for The Daily Growler

NOTE: thegrowlingwolf writes like a machinegun unhinged and unmanned, flailing bullets helter-skelter across the heads of dumbfounded soldiers--he flails us with his mile-a-minute words--and, yes, the Wolf Man does read the comments but he blew one--see the comment from our charming other coast woman trumpeter--in a previous comment she had declared Matty Quick a very serious and well-studied and well-rounded musician--and that for instance, he had studied recordings of Stravinsky's Histoire du soldat--and not Le sacre du printemps as Wolfie remembered it. The Wolf Man also blew the whole point of her comment--not that Matty Quick liked Stravinsky's version of it and thought composers knew their works best--NO NO! She said Mr. Quick found Stravinsky's version lacking--and made the statement you can't always trust a composer for the right interpretation of his own music. Stravinsky was a notoriously messy conductor and composer--Pierre Boulez found several errors in some of Stravinsky's later music and showed them to Igor and Igor agreed they were errors. We apologize to our other coast commenter--Wolfie is off to his Davenport, Iowa, retreat though we have text messaged him the errors of his writing ways.

And Wolfie doesn't believe in editing--though, folks, he does edit his work--you know how? He rewrites and rewrites and rewrites--until he's sloppy worn out and reduced to a babbling idiot until he can get his hands on a fruitjar of his favorite Keokuk Moonshine--look for a sad and bedraggled tossed-haired begrudger traipsing along the Davenport waterfront wearing his Portland Beavers baseball jacket--that'll be him--but don't ask him for his autograph; he'll tell you he can't write.

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